October 3, 2016
We spent the day before our AT section hike setting out water drops. One of our water drops was planned for Jarrard Gap which meant a short hike to the drop on the Jarrard Gap Trail. (As side note, we kept mistakenly calling this Jared Gap until politely corrected by our shuttle driver the next day.) The Jarrard Gap Trail is located in the Lake Winfield Scott Recreation Area and is 2.4 miles out and back.
The first thing we noticed about the lake was how low the water level was! I wish I had taken a picture but honestly, it was sad to look at and we were on a mission at the time. I’m sure it is a beautiful area when it’s not in a severe drought. There were signs posted that camping was half price because there was no water available for the campground. We saw one other hiker and a fisherman but otherwise, the park was empty.
The first part of the trail is shared with Slaughter Creek Trail and follows along a gravel road for a short stretch.
After leaving the road, we crossed a wooden bridge spanning Slaughter Creek. The hike started out with a gentle rise that eventually became a little steeper as we neared the Appalachian Trail Junction. At not point was the hike strenuous and we covered the 1.2 miles quickly. Blue blazes marked our path, indicating it is a spur trail for the AT.
We soon came to Jarrard Gap and got a preview of one of our planned camping destinations. We set out our water drops and scouted the area a bit.
As we headed back down the trail, we took note that the trail paralleled Lance Branch, a spring fed stream that offered one of the few water sources in this area not completed dried up by the drought. We decided that should our water drop come up missing, this would be our plan B for water.
While this was a pretty little walk in the woods, it is not one we would have done had we not been doing a water drop. It could probably be used as part of a larger loop hike, but my guess is that it is mainly used as a quick access to and from the Appalachian Trail.